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American Studies American Studies

los angeles times book prize

art seidenbaum award for first fiction, 1996


ferro-grumley award for distinction in gay writing, 1996


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Read the first chapter. [PDF]

One of the finest first novels to appear in many a moon.  Its simple, noble, graceful prose refreshes the very language, and its unsquinting portrayal of gay men is searing and authentic.  Merlis’s novel belongs to the best of contemporary literature, gay or other. – Library Journal

Mark Merlis’s first novel accomplishes that great thing that gives fiction its claim on truth: It creates a world so real that readers believe they live in it…This is a book that transcends genre in portraying the abyss that divides one ostracized human soul from all others. – Los Angeles Times

The power of this novel is in Merlis’s writerly skill (his fiercely perfect timing, his flawless, always believable diction), in his comprehension of American cultural history, and ultimately in his human wisdom…With this novel, gay literature enters maturity. – James White Review

Stunningly good…Haunting, funny, and masterfully written, American Studies provides keen insight into our own history and our lives. --  Genre

Desolating, bitterly comic, beautifully written…an eye-opening and heart-opening book. – Richard Wilbur